EghtesadOnline: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Iran is an “active threat” to American interests due to its activities in the Middle East, but the White House would “of course” welcome the opportunity to negotiate with Tehran.
Speaking with CNBC on Saturday, America’s top diplomat said he is seeing increased threats from Iran and that US President Donald Trump’s administration is reinforcing its capacity to respond to any offensive action from Iran.
That is why, he added, the US deployed a carrier strike group and other weaponry to the region.
Pompeo offered no evidence to back up his claims, according to Financial Tribune.
“We’ve done all the right things to increase our security posture to the best of our ability,” he said, “but we also want to make sure that we had deterrent forces in place, so in the event that Iran decided to come after an American interest—whether that be in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Yemen, or any place in the Middle East—we were prepared to respond to them in an appropriate way.”
Despite the greater military presence in the region, the secretary of state stressed that the US is not looking for a fight and it would not stumble into one either.
“We’re not going to miscalculate: Our aim is not war, our aim is a change in the behavior of the Iranian [government]. We hope the Iranian people will get what they finally want and what they so richly deserve,” he said.
“The forces that we’re putting in place, the forces that we’ve had in the region before—you know, we often have carriers in the Persian Gulf—but the president wanted to make sure that, in the event something took place, we were prepared to respond to it in an appropriate way.”
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Pompeo noted that he has prepared diplomatic options so that Trump has choices “in the event that the Iranians make a bad decision”.
The secretary of state offered little guidance on what course the White House is likely to pursue in the event of an altercation with Tehran, but he emphasized that Washington would not sit idle.
“An attack on American interests from an Iranian-led force, whether it’s an Iranian proper or it’s an entity that is controlled by the Iranians, we will hold the responsible party accountable. President Trump has been very clear about that: Our response will be appropriate.”
Altering Iran’s influence around the world is also a target for the White House, Pompeo said, again alleging that “Iran is the major destabilizing influence in the Middle East and we aim to fix that.”
America’s primary strategy for addressing that situation is its sanctions on Iran. Those economic restrictions have led to tough conditions for everyday Iranians—inflation in Iran has spiked to a staggering 40% and could go higher, according to the International Monetary Fund. And the country’s currency is down about 60% this year.
Pompeo claimed, however, that the United States is targeting only the country’s rulers.
“These sanctions are directed at the Iranian [government] to change their behavior—point blank, point blank,” the American official asserted.
Despite the open antagonism between Washington and Tehran, Pompeo nevertheless repeated that the White House would be happy to receive overtures from Iran to sort out some of their differences.
“Of course, we would welcome that call. Of course, we want a peaceful diplomatic resolution to each of these conflicts that we’ve talked about here today,” he told CNBC. “That makes perfect sense.”
Trump said on Thursday that he was ready to speak with Iranian leaders and come to an understanding that would allow the country to improve its economic prospects.
"What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me. I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We're not looking to hurt Iran,” Trump added.